"Overall BTGuard offers quite a good service, at an extremely low price."
From $3.3 / Month
These years, a whole load of VPN providers have entered the Internet, and they all say that they're the best choice. But how often do users experience overloaded servers, resulting in a slow connection, frequent disconnects, downtimes, while paying prices that are way above average? You can guess the answer.
BTGuard, or PIA, is one of these new services. However unlike others, they quickly made their way into the “leading providers” (TorrentFreak.com), becoming the darling of the press.
Very moderate prices, fast servers and of course, “no logging”, as TorrentFreak pointed out in their now famous article titled “Which VPN Services Take Your Anonymity Seriously?”.
Talk about building high expectations! But the question is: Do they really stand out of the mass, and what do actual tests say?
- Be it Windows, Mac or even mobile devices such as iPhone/iPad or Android phones or tablets: There is software that makes setup a very easy thing. If you are a total beginner and can barely distinguish a mouse from a keyboard it should take you about 5-10 minutes, everyone else if finished a lot faster.
This is because you basically just enter your username and password, and that's basically it. Other, more advanced settings, can be selected by checking a few boxes, and then clicking “save”. At the end you are left with a little icon at the bottom of the screen where you have to click on “Connect” or “Disconnect”.
Easier than reheating a pizza.
- Speed is very high when you select a server near you, and still decent if you choose a remote location. In practice you can do everything you did before without noticing any difference in most cases. And the US servers, very popular as they are often use to bypass geo-limitations of streaming sites such as Hulu.com, are among the fastest we've seen so far, along with the Netherlands servers which are often choosen from users in Europe.
Torrents were about 5 - 7% slower than without protection: Blazing fast in out book.
- After signing up our VPN account was created instantly, making setup even faster and convenient.
- No real need to mention it, but like all VPNs, PIA completely frees your Internet of any limitations and unblocks everything, from Facebook or YouTube to Skype. Very handy if your government restricts Internet access or your network administrator doesn't like certain websites.
- Decent connection stability. Not once did the VPN connection drop, we even ran a long time test over 36 hours, and the connection was still working perfectly, unlike with other services.
And if you need absolute security, for example if you're file sharing and don't like to sit in front of your computer all the time, there is a nice little option called the “Internet kill switch”. In case anything happens with the secure tunnel that would endanger your anonymity, all Internet access is blocked until you're back in front of the screen.
So no more nervous outbreaks when running uTorrent unsupervised, PIA takes care of you.
- Pricing is among the lowest we've ever seen (around 50% cheaper than most competitors), with plans starting at $3.30 per month if you pay for a year in advance. All plans include full access to all servers.
For obvious reasons we don't recommend the 6 month plan, because honestly... just look at it. Who the hell came up with this?!
- Torrent users will love the fact that PIA offers a SOCKS5 proxy server on top of the PPTP, OpenVPN and IPSec VPN protocols, along with step-by-step guides on how to setup Vuze, uTorrent and similar to download anonymously, without having to send all your traffic through a VPN tunnel.
Want to avoid being tracked when downloading torrents, but don't like using a VPN all the time for some reason? You got it.
(Fair warning: Don't use this for anything else than to protect your privacy, ok? As they say at Google: “Don't be evil”...)
But we missed a few things:
- No free trial. Some people feel uncomfortable having to rely on friends and reviews online to get a good feel on how well a service performs, and might want to get a test account. Unfortunately there is none, you have to open your pocket and hand them over $6.95 for one month of service.
- No ability to selectively block certain programs going online when the “Internet kill switch” feature fires. Some competitors are trying to develop something like that, and maybe PIA is too, but no info can be found on their website.
BTGuard is among the top VPN providers around, hands down. High speeds, very reliable connections and software and a total non logging policy make this provider one of the best choices in the current VPN market.
If you're looking for more anonymity and protection online, go for it.
Bonus tipp: Don't go for the 6 month plan... just compare the prices for 12 and 6 months. No idea who in marketing thought this would be a good plan structure...
Website preview: Some people are scared of reaching the wrong site when googling for a provider we reviewed, so here is a little live preview of how the site should look. Or, of course, just use the big button at the bottom of this page.